08/19/2015 03:11 EDT | Updated 08/19/2016 05:59 EDT

Energy East Pipeline Would Stress Whales: Conservation Council of New Brunswick

FREDERICTON — A New Brunswick conservation group says the proposed Energy East pipeline would cause a stressed marine environment for whales in the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine.

In a report released today on the risks the proposed bitumen pipeline poses to ocean environments, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick says noise from tanker traffic causes heightened levels of stress for the North Atlantic right whale, the most endangered large whale in the world.

It says studies show that tanker traffic impedes on the whales' ability to communicate, forcing them to shout over tanker engines and when the noise reaches a certain level, they are not able to communicate at all.

The 22-page report says the Bay of Fundy's world-famous tides and thick fog would make it difficult to clean up oil spills quickly.

It also says bitumen is likely to form into tarballs when mixed with salt water and sink, which could harm fisheries such as bottom-feeding lobster and scallop.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including that the federal Fisheries Department conduct an assessment of marine traffic noise in the Bay of Fundy to determine its impact and the potential impact of increased traffic noise on whales and other marine life.

It says Ottawa should also assess its oil spill response capabilities in the Bay of Fundy with respect to the bay's unique characteristics, such as extreme tides and fog.

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